Just a twenty-something living the dream, trying to check off the bucket list, one entry at a time
Monday morning, The Washington Post announced it was being sold to Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com. It’s a personal purchase, and according to the Huffington Post, Amazon is not involved.
I found out when I woke up on Monday. My mother told me. And honestly? I won’t lie. The news shook me up a little.
Before the sale, the Post was owned by the Graham family. The Grahams, like the Sulzbergers of the New York Times, are from the old-school generation of the newspaper business. They harken back to the golden years when family-owned newspapers were the norm rather than the exception. When good journalism and the pursuit of truth was the top priority, not revenue. When the same paper was passed down through the same family for generations.
The Post and the Times were the stalwarts. The giants of the business. When papers like the New Orleans Times-Picayune were only publishing three days a week, upping their online content or even closing completely, the Times and the Post stood firm. They were the titans of the industry. They seemed ready to weather the storms atop their lofty mountain. That’s why the sale of the Post cuts so deeply.
Journalism is my passion. It’s why I’m spending 30 grand a year to study it. Sometimes, I think ink runs through my veins. When I’m writing a story for my college paper, I get this fizzing excitement in my bones. I live for tight deadlines, lots of coffee and that euphoric feeling of tracking down and elusive source or finally publishing a story after months of digging, research and hunting through the archives. Once, I covered breaking news that came in at midnight. I was up until 1 or 2 a.m. calling sources, calling my editors and writing web updates. Was I exhausted? Yes. Did I love it? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely.
I believe in journalism. I believe in the pursuit of truth. I believe in the power of print. Once, I stumbled across a column from a journalist who was finally retiring after several decades in the business. Mary Newsom was a reporter for the Charlotte Observer, a McClatchey paper, for 17 years. She writes:
“The dirty little secret of this and any newsroom is that every last one of the people here is, at core, a hopeless romantic, a fool for idealism. We still believe – despite all evidence to the contrary – that maybe we really can save the world, and can do it with our only real weapons: a quest for beauty and a belief that truth matters.” (Full article here: Commentary: A love letter to newspapering )
I have always believed this. We journalists are hopeless idealists. No matter how cynical we seem, no matter how much we’ve seen, no matter the amount of corruption we’ve uncovered or the bull we’ve heard from various talking heads or politicians, we fervently clutch to the idea that we can change the world.
It’s why I got into journalism. It’s why I started writing. We all want to write the truth, to set it free. We all want to give voices to those who can’t be heard. We all want to be defenders of justice, monitors of power. We just happen to hide it well behind our cynicism and sharp tongues.
When my mother told me about the Post, she followed it by a gentle lecture that I might want to consider my options, reevaluate my career path.
But I can’t. Not because I’m stubborn or contrary. But because I physically can’t do anything else. Not after having tasted the beauty of journalism. I’ll ride the wave of print journalism until the water dries up. But even then, I have to continue writing.
The way I see it, people are always going to need news and information. Even if they read articles on their cellphones or iPads, someone still had to write that web content. I will switch to digital mediums and writing for an online paper.
But I won’t lie, it still hurts a little that it’s a very real possibility. My dream job is to live in D.C. in some crappy apartment and yes, write for the Washington Post. I want to travel and write about politics and international affairs. Sometimes I feel as if I was born in the wrong time. I’m a print kind of girl. To this day, I still prefer a paper in my hand than the version on my phone. I love the feel of a newspaper in my hand, the smell of the ink and yes, I even enjoy getting black ink on my fingertips as I turn the pages.
So, even with the digital age staring us in the face, even with the seemingly inevitable switch to online, I still believe in the Post. I still believe in the Times. I believe in that hopeless idealism. I believe there will be more people who feel that excitement and love of journalism in their very bones. I believe the pursuit of truth will prevail.
I can’t help it. I love journalism. That’s why I’m studying it. That’s why I’m preparing for a life of deadlines, long hours and little pay. I still believe.